TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC
March 30, 2014; 16:00 GMT
Brendan Rodgers’ squad have turned into a bunch of hoodoo hunters in the calendar year of 2014. They never won a Premier League game at Stoke City until this season. They had not beaten Arsenal in 7 years, Southampton away in 10 years, and Manchester United at Old Trafford in that rousing 4-1 win in 2009. Having passed a number of tests that most supporters had feared they would fail, Liverpool now enter a vital final stretch of fixtures where that include the visits of Manchester City, Chelsea and Newcastle to Anfield.
At the head of this run of fixtures comes a test in the form of Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to Anfield. Spurs were in the hunt for a place in the Champions League thanks to a start strong under head coach Tim Sherwood, but recent defeats at Chelsea, and to Benfica and Arsenal have made life difficult for them. A win over Liverpool at Anfield would not only throw all title talk out of the window, but also breathe life into Spurs’ bid for European football.
Team News and Tactics
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been at the centre of a sterling run of form for Liverpool, but has consistently stated that his and the team’s aim to seal a place in the Top 4. In past season, an average of 70 points has been enough to secure a place in the Champions League – so a Liverpool victory should potentially seal qualification for Europe’s biggest showpiece next season. Most importantly, (besides the long term absence of Jose Enrique) Rodgers has a full squad to choose from.
Mamadou Sakho is now fully fit from his three-month long injury layoff, and now gives Brendan Rodgers the headache of whether to insert him into a starting lineup for a game as important as this one. There is also the question of whether to retain the diamond formation in midfield, or to bring in Raheem Sterling to provide width on the right. Other than that, there should be no major changes in personnel for Liverpool.
Probable Line-up (4-4-2): Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan, Gerrard, Henderson, Allen, Coutinho, Sturridge, Suarez
Tottenham Hotspur FC
It has been a roller coaster ride for Tottenham Hotspur as their challenge for a place in the Top 4 took multiple steps back during the thrashings under Andre Villas-Boas. Tim Sherwood had indeed begun well as manager; reinstating Emmanuel Adebayor into the first team and getting the best out of him, but frustrating defeats away at Chelsea, and at home to Benfica and Arsenal have irked the manager.
Tottenham will be out for revenge considering their 5-0 defeat at White Hart Lane in December was AVB’s final game as manager. Unlike the Reds, however, Spurs will not have a fully fit squad available. Emmanuel Adebayor will have a gash on his heel assessed before the trip to Anfield. Kyle Walker could miss out due to a groin problem, while the likes of Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches remain absent.
Probable Line-up (4-5-1): Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Verthongen, Rose, Bentaleb, Dembele, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Eriksen, Soldado
- Luis Suarez (28) and Daniel Sturridge (20) combined have scored more goals than Tottenham Hotspur (40) this season.
- A booking for Steven Gerrard will see him miss the games against West Ham United (away) and Manchester City (home).
- Liverpool have won 11 of their last 12 home games this season.
Player to Watch
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
There aren’t many players in the world Luis Suarez will tolerate taking free kicks instead of him, given the Uruguayan’s success in dead ball situations in recent times. But Steven Gerrard’s inch perfect free kick gave Liverpool the impetus to seal an important win in what was a less than perfect performance.
More importantly, however, Captain Fantastic is currently on 9 bookings, having mistimed his fair share of challenges ever since he started to play deeper in midfield. Brendan Rodgers feels that his captain is experienced enough to steer clear off the referee’s book. But given that there are two weeks left until the second Sunday of April, Steven Gerrard is walking on thin ice.
Liverpool 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Ever since a howler from Kolo Toure directly cost Liverpool two points at West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool have gone on to win 7 games in a row. The Reds have been firing offensively on all cylinders, but shaky performances in defence, and Spurs’ lack of consistency going forward could result in a high-scoring fixture at Anfield. Liverpool should have enough in the tank to see this game through.
Blast from the Past